Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

It's OK to Be Biased, Opinionated When Writing a Newspaper Column

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

It's OK to Be Biased, Opinionated When Writing a Newspaper Column

Article excerpt

Do you know the difference between these terms? Article. Column. Editorial. Ad.

Many readers don't, because the terms aren't often explained.

But there are important distinctions that affect the credibility of newspapers.

For instance, readers regularly refer to the "objectivity" of opinion columns. That means they agree with them, but opinions aren't designed to be objective.

Or readers complain about the "bias" in opinion columns. That means they disagree with them, but columns are supposed to take a stance.

So here are brief definitions:

Article: A news story. Therefore, an article should be fair, accurate, complete and free of the writer's opinions.

Column: Usually identified by a reporter's photo, this is personal opinion. It's not supposed to be fair.

Editorial: This is the opinion of the newspaper as a corporate institution. That is why an editorial is not signed; it's not an individual's opinion. The publisher makes the final decisions on editorial positions.

Ad: Short for advertising. That means it's paid by the advertiser to make a good impression on consumers. It's not news. By the way, Advertising Feature sections are produced by the Advertising Department, such as Wheels and Real Estate.

This column alone can't clear up the confusion. I think every newspaper ought to contain a daily statement that defines its mission and explains its content.

Here is one possibility.

"The Times-Union seeks to be the premier news source in Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia. Therefore, news stories should be fair, accurate and complete. Columns represent the opinion of the individual writers only. Editorials represent the opinion of the newspaper as a corporate institution."

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